Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31: Clean Slate

First thing first: I believe that a clean slate is a myth. It is something like in the movie The Dark Knight, where the leading female role was longing for such after a quite unpleasant track record in her life, and that could only be solved with some sort of computer programme. Whenever one tries to start over, there are some things they will always carry on with them, making the slate will never be completely clean at any point of the year.

Since I only have so much time in the world, just like my other worldly resources, I believe that it would be such a shame to spend it recklessly. Moreover, as what lies in the future remains unknown before it presents itself in, well, present time, it is wise to, other than be prepared to be surprised, plan ahead. For me, planning ahead is not merely about making short-term to-do lists, but also how to integrate them to ones in longer terms, and making sure things are done for certain purposes.

A lot of people appreciate the start of the year with a prepared Resolution; sometimes a thorough one, some other times a simple “be better”. I did write some sort of a resolution, but somehow it was not saved on my computer – probably that is a sign for me not to promise myself too much for the year ahead. I still remember some of them, though, such as to have complete documentation of my daily spending and read at least a book (re-reading does not count) a week.

 “I am aware that I want way too many things in life. However, I am glad that I know what I want, and as I am paving my way to earn them, I know I am going to tick things off my wish list in 2013, one at a time,” I said in my Facebook status today, making it my last in 2012.

Once I posted the status, I came to a realisation that it is not clean slate that I need to start the year; it is the drive to keep on going. As monumental as New Year may sound for someone to have another fresh beginning, it is more crucial to have what it takes to live their lives throughout the year. This, I believe, is what many people lack in, making their resolutions abandoned within the first weeks of the year. Those who put “be skinny” in their New Year Resolutions, without having tangible goals and action steps, for example, would only have a fat chance.

I remember encountering something called the Need for Achievement (N-Ach) some time in college while taking Communication Psychology class. The term was coined by American psychologist Henry Murray, and later popularised by David McClelland. defines it as a “personality trait characterised by an enduring and consistent concern with setting and meeting high standards of achievement.”

Anyway, I see that the word “achievement” itself has quite a large spectrum in people’s lives, although sometimes it is oversimplified by those who say, “I want to be a better person” without having better clarity in their parameters. This fact reminds me that everyone, regardless of the level, has the N-Ach in themselves. After all, the N-Ach is related to the difficulty of tasks people choose to the difficulty of tasks people choose to undertake. It is said that those with high N-Ach tend to choose moderately difficult task, feeling that they are challenging, but within reach. That sounds familiar *cough cough*.

Moreover, as the need for achievement motivates an individual to succeed in competition, and to excel in activities important to him or her, getting achievement is not necessarily about impressing others. There is another highlight that everybody deserves to have, and that is the self-fulfilment. Yes, people, if you are still wondering what drives you, here is the importance of being selfish.

To begin 2013, I will give it the celebration it deserves, like joining the crowd for a countdown and fireworks-watching and the like, then later on taking a long nap. But then, there are 364 days left in the year, and I owe myself to make the most of them by paving the way to get what I want. 

A comprehensive preparation for continuing my study abroad is in order, as I am looking forward to do so in a year or two. A desire to travel more is also getting more encouragement, as I have been receiving heart-warming New Year wishes from friends in different parts of the world, saying that whenever I travel to their respective hometowns, they will be there to be my host. To make sure that I shall be in a tip-top shape while doing everything, I am starting to take better care of myself – better sleeping habit and regular exercise are in order!

John Lennon says, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. I say that life is, by the way, also what happens when you’re busy doing nothing (other than probably convincing others that you’re just a laid back person). Life happens no matter what you do, because time waits for no one. Now, it is your call – what will you be busy doing when life happens?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30: Undone

2012 was, to say the least, monumental. 

I finally graduated, that was one. It felt good to be able to finish what I have started, and later on fully embrace future possibilities with a warm welcome.

Then I got to be a reporter, and eventually landed on my dream job. It is as if my dream comes true, and in a way, it does. However, being someone who wants way too many things for a lifetime, there are plenty of other stuffs in my bucket list remain undone.

Getting a scholarship abroad for an advance degree has been on the top of my list since, I don't know, ten years ago? Probably since I have decided to aim for a position at the United Nations, and found out that I need at least a masters degree to be considered worthy of applying. For that point alone, I am aware that it takes a lot of preparation: taking tests, making applications, asking for recommendations, and of course, getting the adequate number of years of experience.

I did not manage to read at least one book every week in 2012, so I am going to do that this year - with better year-long commitment. Same thing goes to blog posts. I realise that thesis research has hampered my love for reading in a way. I am sick of reading word after word in a page, and page after page in a book, it keeps me coming back to Sherlock reruns.

I did not save up as much as I have targeted, and instead splurged what I already have for an overseas trip to watch my favourite songstress performing live. I have no regrets and the concert was worth every cent, but it is about time for me to be more cautious in welcoming the rainy days.

I have yet to revised the English version of my thesis, let alone making a journal article out of it. This is a heartbreaking confession, knowing that I should have done it before assuming full-time responsibility. Now I don't know when can I work on it. *sobs*

I have yet to declutter my wardrobe. I think being a hoarder runs in the family, but then again, your closest circle is the best place to start a change.

Ah, of course. This project, #Reverb12. Since I discovered it quite late, I did not have enough time to finish this project by the end of the year. However, worry not, for I will still have one post for everyday in December 2012.

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28: All Grown Up

After graduation, maturity speeds up; it is as if one is a grown-up overnight regardless of how old they actually are.

I had that phase in 2012, once I have completed the journey of thesis-writing at the last day of February. I had two months to go before the graduation day, which I spent working on thesis revision and online job seeking, with applying for volunteer and youth exchange programmes in between. Turned out that I cannot do everything I want to do, let alone do everything at once, because of a grown-up responsibility I chose to assume: a full-time job.

So off I went to Jakarta a couple days after my graduation day to work as a magazine reporter. From the day on, I have been a morning person who rushes trying to do a lot of stuff early in the day, which includes dressing up with lipstick and heels before heading to the destination I call “office”, where I will be busy being busy at work. I remember growing up watching my mum doing such ritual, and now that I do that too, it feels like I cannot be any more of a grown-up.

I remember growing up with a frequent change of dream job. After all, it was the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” implied. I did want to be a doctor, then a stewardess, an actress, a scholar, and many more. I can even recall the dream of being a Cinderella (no thanks to the fairy tales with happy endings, Disney), which then scrapped away because the idea of having a stepmother was not appealing – and I want to earn the love of my so-called prince charming, not just because I had one dance with him and later left a shoe in front of his house.

Growing up, it seemed quite clear to me what I want to do, although unraveling the path was another matter entirely. Nevertheless, I have come to a realization that whatever dream you have achieved, it takes continuous hard work to keep it stay for real in your life.

Am now I the thing I used to dream myself to be? I am utterly not sure. I know that it is my desire to travel to the corners of the world and meet people so I can listen to their stories and write about them, enabling the rest of the earth to learn about them and keep their faith in humanity.

I believe that I am getting there.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26: Typical Day

In 2012, I do not have one day in particular to be referred as a typical day, due to the rapid change of routine and responsibilities. 

Until March, my typical day consisted of hours of researching and brainstorming in the name of thesis-writing, along with Sherlock marathon and aimless Internet surfing, occasional meet-ups, and thesis supervision dates. After that, until my commencement day in May, just the Sherlock marathon, aimless Internet surfing, occasional meet-ups, and online job-hunting. 

On this kind of typical day, it is very typical to sleep at as late as 5 am after pulling an all-niter for thesis, and to wake up at as early as 7 am because the thesis supervisor requested a 9 am meeting. I was a night owl at its best, and that meant having my mum constantly lecturing me on the harms of staying up late to my overall health.

A week after graduation, I started working in the capital city as a feature reporter for an infamous women lifestyle magazine. With a 9-to-6 working hours, I was forced to be a morning person. Luckily, moving out of Bandung to Jakarta means living on my own, and because I can, if not have to, rent a room to live, I was able to live nearby my office. After working hours, I usually would catch up with friends, usually ones who also came from Bandung, who are also working in the city. On weekends, if I didn't visit my hometown, I would stay home (read: not going out of my room) and do some long-overdue chores.

On this kind of typical day, I would spend most of my time in front of the computer browsing around to look for materials for my articles. Some days I would go out reporting product launching or art performances. I would also be preparing for and doing photo shoots, which were my least favourite part of work.

After about six months, I quit the job. My typical day remains more or less the same afterwards, other than the fact that I am now becoming more of an early bird, because my office hours starts at 8 am. In addition, even though it ends at 5 pm, I rarely go home on time, making the time I spend for working is as much as ten hours a day in average, if not minimum.

My typical day has many things I can easily cherish. 
No matter how late I wake up, I can rush and be at the office in ten minutes. I have my own room at the office, with spacious desk and drawers in which I stock up on my breakfast cereals. I work at the central part of the city, which makes it easy to go out after office hours. I live on my own so I have no worries on curfews. 

In many ways, my current typical day is similar to the one I had in my exchange semester. 
However, it might be surprising for some, that my typical day involves a sheer pride for not spending anything for lunches so that I can splurge on dinners with friends. That is why costly lunches suck. At least for me. But, apparently, it does not stop me from buying pearl milk tea at noon.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Dream: A Study Plan

I blame Harry Potter for making me dreaming of going to the United Kingdom, and Hogwarts for studying at the country. It started as a dream of a secondary school student, and now it is a dream I have been keeping for over a decade. The land has captivated me with its charm in the forms of its rich cultural heritage, its fast-paced society, its metropolitan atmosphere going side-by-side with lush countryside, its commendable media products (BBC One's Sherlock, anyone?), and, of course, its accent. Oh, how I wish that being overdosed on British television shows will get me such poised accent!

Ahem. Anyway.

I have been dreaming of studying in the United Kingdom; London, to be exact. Some of the reasons have been stated above. As a mere dream of a teenager, it might not seem to be sufficient. After all, one can dream about literally anything, but what matters most is how they are willing to do what it takes to make their dreams come true.

So I pave my way to my study in the United Kingdom. I went through secondary school and university with specific field of study in mind. I developed my interests into something more tangible and curiosity-inducing, which ended up as a bachelor degree in journalism. When my keen interest in journalism in particular and media studies in general is combined with my fascination on the UK, it is fairly understandable that it became a start for me to look for such programmes in the universities in the UK.

I have done some researches, and found several universities with promising programmes and location (having a "city girl" bias, I opt for only London-based unis). Oh, scholarship opportunities also becomes one of the crucial points of consideration. So far, I have included SOAS (The School of Oriental and African Studies), University of Westminster, and Goldsmiths. Given my current workplace's focus on development, both MA in Media and Development and Global Media and Transnational Communications offered in those universities particularly spark my interest.

Now that I have found where and what to study, it is the time to start planning further steps prior to applying.

To be frank, it scares me in a way. I am afraid about scores required for the application, and whether mine will be adequate. I am worried about how will I fund the costs. Hell, even the number of years of experience I have right now scares me.

It is not that I have been in such state before. And I know that it feels like history is repeating itself. Well, in that case, I just know what to do: keep trying, keep doing - one thing at a time. Besides, busy worrying will not get me to the land of Merlin, no?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On Coming Back

I know, I know. It has been quite some time for me to abandon this blog, although I have (actually) pledged to post every week. My apologies.

I found it quite common for bloggers to provide justifications on their absence of posts when coming back from a momentary blogging hiatus, but honestly, sometimes it is way too elaborated and ended up being an almost unnecessary supply of too much information.

In my case, it is safe to conclude that other than being occupied by the new responsibilities at my new workplace, I am aware that I did not make the time to write. Yes, it is not that I do not have enough time to write, nor I have nothing to write about. Instead, I have numerous drafts in different stage of completion but they remain unfinished anyway.

Nevertheless, I think it is important to acknowledge the causes that make one ended up not doing something they supposed to, instead of trying to justify such act through excuses. In my opinion, only by doing so, one can embrace their limitations before start overcoming it. In the case of getting myself to update my blog in a regular basis, I call it “coming back”.

Sometimes I would feel like I am getting nowhere and it sucks, because, more or less, I have to move forward or it feels like dying. I dislike seeing people going their ways, striving and thriving, when I am idling aimlessly. At those times, I would not even bother calling myself “laid back”, although in my defence, I might say that I am just taking a step back to observe my surrounding to determine the next destination, which way to take, and how to get there. Thankfully, such period never lasts too long to the extent it becomes agonising. Before I know it, I will be coming back on track, to continue playing the game of life.

For quite some time, I have been wondering what I have accomplished so far, and whether they comply with whatever the society believes to be the right pathway for “a girl like me”. However, I believe that life is not a race. I am not in favour of doing things just to catch up with my peers, and I will not say yes just because I am tired of saying no.

That being said, I am back on blogging because I am aware that I need to. As I have already talked about my reasons to write, not writing makes me feel like bottling up feelings and letting thoughts go down the drain.

Indeed, since I already have a binding commitment with myself, it means that I also have to do so. It is like owing yourself the pleasure to articulate what you have in mind and to document memories you want to cherish.

As December makes many people suddenly turn reflective towards the ebb-and-flow of their lives (hence the many New Year’s Resolutions and all), I have another pledge to make for this blog: incorporate pictures (yes, plural) into every post. I have a decent camera-phone now, so there should not be excuses regarding having substandard gadget anymore.

In conclusion, I am back – with more posts to come! Thanks to a project called "Reverb 12: The Prompts", I am going to have post for each and every day in December 2012. Yayss! :)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

December 5th: Letting Go

For next year, I am letting go of some of my thoughts and expectations, particularly ones related to things I believe I should have accomplished because I deserve it. This might include things from worldly recognitions, companions, and everything else in between.

Ambitions can turn people to be really scary sometimes, and I have had my own moments to be such scary person. Being a very potent fuel, ambitions can drive one to their desired path, but it can also burn them. Personally, I believe that having ambitions does not supposed to stop one from understanding that some things are not meant to be theirs no matter how bad they want it, hence the determination of letting go.

There is already one thing waits to be let go, and I believe that there will be more on the way. In the meantime, I believe that letting go of some things means embracing some others. I hope that doing so might help me surviving the so-called quarter-life crisis as well. :D

Found this while randomly typed "letting go" on Google image search. Image taken from here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

December 4: Places

What places anchored me this year? Ah, this is too easy to answer. The capital city, of course!

To start an entirely new life after college, I moved from my home town to Jakarta. I spent a little more than half a year throughout 2012 in the capital city for the sake of earning a living.

The good thing of having a home town only about three hours away from Jakarta is that I can come home as often as every weekend, although I did not do so as frequent.

On another note, the search of a rented room was tough, I tell you. I have heard from too many people that finding one that suits your budget and needs is as challenging as finding your true love – and I must say I agree. For seven month I spent living in Jakarta, I already lived in four (!) places.

My first place was a supposedly-a-female-only-guest house in Kebon Sirih. Located near the illustrious Jalan Jaksa, backpackers in colourful bags and complexion was a common sight. The room was small, but it had character, with warm lighting and a set of vintage furniture. I stayed for only a month here, because the landlady then came up saying that her distant niece is coming to live with her and she will use my room, only a few days after I have moved in.

Ridiculous as it may sound, I had to start the room-rent hunt once again, and soon enough I found a replacement in Kebon Kacang. The neighbourhood offers affordable rented rooms for every budget, and I was happy to find a girls-only place equipped with kitchen for IDR 750k a month. Granted, there was neither en-suite bathroom nor air conditioner, and I also had to pay extra for my laundry, but it fit my budget nicely and the house mates were friendly.

After three months living there, though, I decided to move with a friend to a place in Jalan Blora. I heard about the place from a friend who had been living there for some time, and from his words, the place sounds like a very good bargain. It is strategically located on the top floor of a 24-hour Manadonese restaurant, and only steps away from XTrans shuttle service station. The room cost IDR 2, 2 million, but sharing it made the bill more bearable. After all, it had en-suite bathroom, air conditioner, cable television, and wireless internet connection. They would also change the bed sheet and refill the mineral water gallon weekly.

However, the management sucked. My room was never thoroughly cleaned up. The water was so bad I got skin allergies and I eventually washed my face with drinking water. I also suspected that, when they cleaned my room or refilled the drinking water, they did other things they might not supposed to do, because often times I noticed that my possession was not placed where I initially left them. We left after merely a month.

It was October, and my quest for a rented room ended after I stumbled upon a place, again, in Kebon Kacang. Actually, I even came back to the very street I used to live in; it was only a couple of buildings apart from my old place. It had everything I wanted: a reasonably-sized room for one with a big dresser, well-cleaned building and bathrooms, a kitchen and a shared refrigerator. For IDR 850k a month, they would do my laundry as well, so that was a plus.

My last rented room has now become my little nest. To complement my storage space, I bought a chest of drawer, two knock-down shelves, two and three stacks respectively, and a wheeled plastic container, so I have a place for everything I own. This might seem petty, but being able to have most of my belongings in a room is what makes living in a rented place means so much to me.

The one downer of this place, though, is that the landlady does not allow people other than the renter’s family members to stay over. Oh, and the room’s door lock is often times problematic. However, generally, I like it here.

Update: As I have left my last job in May 2013 and get a new one in a different neighbourhood earlier this month, I decided to move out of my rented room two months ago. I am currently on a quest for finding a new one that is walking distance from my current office. Wish me luck! J

Monday, December 03, 2012

December 3: Beautiful Things

It is said that best things in the world are free, and to complement that saying, I would like to state that the most beautiful things in the world are, instead of seen, felt.

My graduation pictures are beautiful, and I looked gorgeous in them. However, the heart-warming feeling of having my mum’s arms around me when I presented her with a bouquet in the commencement ceremony was way more beautiful.

I have been buying pieces of clothes and accessories with my hard-earned pay check, and they are indeed beautiful. However, the joy for being able to get the said pretty things for my loved ones is an even more beautiful feeling.

The world has too many beautiful places to see and be experienced. It becomes more beautiful, though, when it’s accompanied with the sense of gratitude because my dearest friends were there with me.

I can dress up and look beautiful afterwards, but it is more beautiful to have the good feeling that I look good and I can take on the world.

Works of art are beautiful, but they can look or sound more beautiful when they touch your heart.

Life itself is beautiful, but I feel its beauty to be overwhelming once I cherish them, letting beauty to linger not only in the eyes of the beholder but also in their souls.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

December 2: Help

Help, I cannot think straight!
Help, I am not making any progress!
Help, I am out of cash!
Help, I am infatuated!
Help, I am overwhelmed!
Help, my phone is acting up!
Help, I don’t have anything to wear to work!
Help, I cannot stand my surroundings!
Help, I don’t know what will become of me after college!
Help, I want to get what I want!

My, didn’t I ask for a lot of help throughout the year? But, then again, have not I been, and don’t we all?

As my 2012 began with thesis-themed dramas, I did shout-out for thesis-related help a lot. This resulted in a four-paged thank you note in my thesis, which included even Benedict Cumberbatch.

The four-lettered word reminds me how humble I am as a human being, just like a table top that will not make a table without four legs. Whenever one is clueless or helpless, however, help is always on its way.

This year, I learn that sincere help lasts even longer after the favour is done. A call for help gets not only a problem solved, but also priceless after-effects that enrich lives. To name one of the said life-enriching effects of asking help; it reconnects me with friends, who ended up introducing me to their friends and now I can call them my friends as well. Also, no matter how much I prefer flying solo and doing as many things on my own as possible, I can only manage to do so because of the help of others.

On another note, the prompt for the day also alternately asks whether I did help for someone and how it did play out. Since the occasion permits, let me talk about how people have been addressing me queries on applying for the exchange scholarship I got in 2010 by summing it in a line: I am surprised on how some can be really depending on other people’s answers and not making enough effort to help themselves first.

As implied by the prompt for today, help is not only about asking for it, but also about giving it, obviously, to the ones who need. Grew up watching a TV serial on the legend of Sun Go Kong, I remember a quote from Tong Sam Chong the monk, who once said that “in helping people, one must do it thoroughly.”  As much as I live by the quote, I also believe that people deserve thorough help from others only after they have done everything they can to help themselves.

In that sense, I have very little respect on people who came to me and ask, “May I ask you questions on applying for the scholarship?” with no previous effort on thoroughly reading the FAQ trilogy I have posted on my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than delighted to get more people applying for and eventually getting the scholarship, but I don’t see the need to go the extra miles for those who don’t do so at the first place. Surely, if one has found me on Facebook, they can also look my blog up and read the scholarship-related posts before come to me and address more specific inquiries. If they have done so, then by all means, ask me anything and I shall be glad to help in any way I can.

So, how can I help you?